Clinical Integration Unlocks Reprocessing Savings
Single -use device reprocessing in the electrophysiology lab saves hospitals across the United States hundreds of thousands of dollars every year. However, most EP labs can double their savings by adding more products to the program or increasing their use of reprocessed electrophysiology devices. The low usage of reprocessed devices is important to us, because a lab tripling its device cost savings can make the difference between a profitable lab and one that is losing money – or between a lab that can afford better technology and one that can’t.
The barrier to achieve more savings has to do with what devices the lab reprocesses, and how many of these devices are used in procedures. A reprocessing program makes it possible for the lab to achieve critical savings, but when savings are not achieved, it was because two critical components are missing: 1) A dialogue with the lab about how savings from reprocessed devices can help the overall performance of the lab; and 2) a dialogue with clinicians and technologists about the safety and performance of reprocessed devices.
Two years ago, we decided to act on this knowledge and establish a team of clinical integration specialists whose role it would be to help labs using reprocessed devices get better results from their program – through clinical, technological, and economics dialogue with different folks involved in the reprocessing program.
We had one goal: Increasing the savings for the lab.
While the opportunity was clearly there, we also knew that using reprocessed devices to improve the economics of the electrophysiology lab is difficult. So, our team of clinical integration specialists was formed to achieve gradual improvements over time. Electrophysiologists are the gatekeepers of what devices are being used. When it comes to reprocessed devices, many doctors have had bad experiences in the past. Reprocessed devices didn’t feel right. FDA requirements were too relaxed for them to feel comfortable about safety. Or reprocessed devices just didn’t work consistently.
We had one goal: Increasing the savings for the lab.
Many of these concerns have gone away in recent years, as FDA requirements have become stricter, and reprocessing programs have become better at understanding how to reprocess devices. But it is critical to spend the time educating physicians about these changes.
Another important discussion we have with the doctors is about what a successful reprocessing program can do for THEM. In successful labs, physicians know that if they get behind reprocessing, the lab will be able to provide them with the newest technologies – and with mapping systems that give them choice.
We also work with nurses and electrophysiology technologists. This dialogue leads to a better understanding of how to optimize savings and why to be comfortable using reprocessed devices. Finally, we work with purchasing professionals associated with the electrophysiology lab. Getting the ordering and usage system to work right isn’t easy.
The first step in clinical integration is to do a 360-degree assessment of the lab. Clinical integration specialists look at the lab in terms of their past reprocessing behavior, their collection efficiency – to get reprocessed devices, the lab has to collect used ones – and their past success with buying back and using reprocessed devices. This paints a picture of the additional potential the lab has to increase savings.
Sometimes the opportunity is to increase the number of devices included in the reprocessing program. This means going from using only reprocessed diagnostic catheters to using ultrasound catheters, transseptal sheaths, or mapping catheters. Other times it involves educating the purchasing staff about how to enter reprocessed devices into their ordering system or prioritizing the use of the less expensive reprocessed catheters versus new catheters.
The clinical integration specialist then monitors the performance of the reprocessing program on a daily basis to ensure that savings are maximized. If they are not – if something slips – the clinical integration specialist will come back and educate. In regular savings reviews, they go into detail about achieved results and about additional savings opportunity.
The clinical integration approach is to gradually grow the reprocessing program in collaboration with all stakeholders at the lab. When new devices are introduced slowly and only when everybody is comfortable, growth becomes more solid. A lab that initially saves very little because it only reprocesses diagnostic EP catheters can gradually grow, with the introduction of additional devices such as introducer sheath, diagnostic ultrasound catheters, and transseptal needles, to yield 5 or 6 times more savings. Clinical integration builds a bridge between the OEM, the doctor, the technologist, and the administration – so that everybody is on the same page. Clinical integration means helping EP labs drive stronger savings by supporting OEM communication, creating physician engagement, and aligning administrative and clinical objectives.
The clinical integration approach is to gradually grow the reprocessing program in collaboration with all stakeholders at the lab.
Creating an environment of clinical integration around the reprocessing program takes the lab engagement activities to a different level, including enabling significant growth in devices included and overall savings achieved. The clinical integration specialist works in concert with Innovative Health engineers, customer support, and collection technicians to make this happen.